Annual Meeting Speaker Bios
J. Gary Smyth, Executive Director, Global Research & Development, General Motors
Smyth began his career with GM in 1989 as a senior project engineer with GM Advanced Product Engineering in Warren, Mich. He has held numerous positions in the Advanced Powertrain organization and was named engineering director, Advanced Propulsion System Controls in 1999, with responsibilities including advanced diesel and advanced emission development. In September 2004, he transferred to GM R&D as director, Powertrain Systems Research Lab, where his responsibilities included directing all research and development globally for conventional and hybridized propulsion systems. In June 2010, Gary was promoted to executive director, North American Science Labs, GM Global R&D.
A native of Northern Ireland, Smyth attended The Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB). He studied mechanical engineering and received a bachelor’s of science in 1985 and a doctorate in 1991. He is an active member of SAE International, including a founding member of the Executive Leadership Team for the SAE North American International Powertrain Conference (NAIPC).
Joe Zekoski, Chief Technical Officer, VP, Global Product Development, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
In his role as Vice President, Global Product Development and Technical Center Operations, Joe is responsible for delivering all of Goodyear’s new products globally, as well as the operations of our R&D network.
He is a 30 year Goodyear veteran, who started as a commercial truck tire engineer. Joe has held tire technology leadership positions in passenger, light truck and commercial truck tire development.
Joe has also had multiple experiences as a business leader in commercial truck tire retreading and in Goodyear’s Engineered Products Division.
He has a BS in Engineering Mechanics from the US Air Force Academy and a Masters in Business Administration from California State College, Dominguez Hills.
Mehmood Khan, M.D., Executive Vice President, PepsiCo Chief Scientific Officer, Global Research and Development
PepsiCo has 22 different food and beverage brands that generate more than $1 billion each in annual retail sales. With net revenues of over $65 billion, PepsiCo’s main businesses also make hundreds of other enjoyable foods and beverages that are respected household names throughout the world.
As chief scientific officer, Dr. Khan leads company-wide R&D; recruits highly regarded clinical scientists, global health leaders and medical experts; launches research projects with leading universities; and opens advanced R&D facilities.
As Executive Vice President, Dr. Khan leads a global team of experts in nutrition, medicine, research, science, marketing/branding, ingredient sourcing and product innovation. He directs PepsiCo’s enterprise planning, portfolio development and execution of new technology to grow the company’s nutrition-focused brands in four areas: grains (Quaker), fruits (Tropicana), vegetables (Sabra) and dairy (Wimm-Bill-Dann). With the creation of the GNG, PepsiCo is one of only two food and beverage companies worldwide with an operation dedicated to health and wellness.
This crossover role is unique in the global food and beverage industry, permitting a single point of linkage between R&D and core businesses and brands within the context of health and wellness.
Prior to joining PepsiCo, Dr. Khan was president, Takeda Global Research & Development Center, overseeing Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company’s worldwide R&D efforts. Previously, Dr. Khan was a faculty member at the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minn., serving as director of the Diabetes, Endocrine and Nutritional Trials Unit in the endocrinology division. He also spend nine years leading programs in diabetes, endocrinology, metabolism and nutrition for the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
Closing Keynote & IRI 2014 Medalist
Joseph DeSimone, Director, Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise; Chancellor's Eminent Professor of Chemistry, UNC
Joseph DeSimone is the Chancellor's Eminent Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University and of Chemistry at UNC. DeSimone is also an adjunct member at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
DeSimone, an innovative polymer chemist, has made breakthrough contributions in fluoropolymer synthesis, colloid science, nano-biomaterials, green chemistry and most recently 3D printing. He pioneered supercritical CO2-based polymerization reactions and the self-assembly of molecules in compressible media. He has shown the benefit of novel fluoro-elastomers for soft lithographic applications, including the synthesis of shape-controlled nano-biomaterials.
DeSimone is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received over 50 major awards and recognitions including the 2014 Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success from the ACS; 2013 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors; 2012 Walston Chubb Award for Innovation by Sigma Xi; the 2010 AAAS Mentor Award in recognition of his efforts to advance diversity in the chemistry PhD workforce, and many others.
DeSimone has published over 300 scientific articles and has 140 issued patents and over 80 patents pending. DeSimone holds a BS in Chemistry from Ursinus College a PhD in Chemistry from Virginia Tech.
John Aceti, Vice President, Analogy Growth Partners, LLC
John Aceti has an engineering and entrepreneurial background with a keen interest in transitioning new advanced technologies into the commercial markets to create first-to-the-world products and businesses. John has worked at three national laboratories- RCA Laboratories, Sarnoff Corporation and Draper Laboratory where he was responsible for transitioning technologies into the medical, pharmaceutical, healthcare and consumer markets. John holds 26 U.S. patents and 18 pending.
John’s experience includes:
- establishing biomedical businesses for a world renown laboratory
- founding Songbird, the world’s first disposable hearing aid, securing >$20M early stage venture capital, leading the development team and engaging global suppliers and manufacturing partners to develop the product
- founding Intuity Medical (formerly Rosedale Medical), that developed an ambulatory glucose monitoring system for the $6 billion diabetes care market and raising $6M of series A venture capital
- founding Vigilance, a patient monitoring system for clinical and home healthcare and raising $4M private investment. The company was subsequently acquired by a major medical device company
- leading a $3M effort to create fundamental technology for Insulet’s OmniPod insulin pump
- leading a $20M product development project for electronically controlled eye glass product (variable optical density lenses, electrochromic eyewear) for a major chemical company
Cynthia Arnold, PhD, Chief Technology Officer, Valspar Corporation
Dr. Cynthia A. Arnold, Ph.D., has been the Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of The Valspar Corporation since January 2011. In this role, Dr. Arnold leads Valspar's global technology activities. Dr. Arnold joined The Valspar Corporation from Sun Chemical Corporation where she served as Chief Technology Officer since July 2004. She served as Vice President, Technology, Coatings Adhesives and Specialties, for Eastman Chemical and in R&D and business leadership positions with GE, most recently as President of Exatec, LLC, a joint venture of Bayer Polymers and GE Plastics. Prior to GE, she was a Sloan Executive Science and Engineering Fellow in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the White House, Washington D.C. Dr. Arnold holds a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley and a doctorate in materials science and engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Martha J. Collins, PhD, Director, Global Technology Centers, Air Products
Dr. Collins has 25 years’ experience as an innovator in chemical and gases industries. Currently, Martha is the Director of the Global Technology Centers for Air Products, an organization that houses key technical capabilities shared across the corporation and identifies and develops new external technologies for Air Products businesses. She was elected in May 2009 to the Board of Directors and is the current Chairman of the Board for the Industrial Research Institute – the leading U.S. association of companies and federal labs working together to enhance the effectiveness of technological innovation in industry. Prior to joining Air Products, Martha spent time early in her career developing and commercializing profitable new products and technologies for Eastman Chemical Company and Union Carbide Corporation. Martha holds a PhD from the University of California and 14 U.S. patents.
Atul Dighe, Senior Director, Finance, Strategy & Innovation Practice, CEB
Atul Dighe has over nineteen years of experience advising large corporations, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies on questions on strategy, innovation, and the future. As Senior Director of the CEB’s strategy and innovation research team, Dighe works with over 400 of the world’s largest and most progressive organizations to enhance their strategic ability to positively impact change.
Prior to joining CEB 7 years ago, Dighe ran his own strategy consulting firm. Dighe has authored over 20 major industry-wide trends and scenarios studies for trade associations in the health care, building & construction, and technology sectors. Dighe is the co-author of the best-selling book Exploring the Future and is often quoted for his views on strategies, innovation, scenario planning, emerging business opportunities, and acquisitions in publications such as The New York Times, USA Today, and Money Magazine.
Dighe is academically trained in business from the McComb’s School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin and holds a Master of Science in Studies of the Future from the University of Houston.
Dighe resides in San Francisco with his wife where they homeschool their 3 daughters (ages 12, 10, and 7).
Alan Epstein, PhD, Vice President, Technology and Environment, Pratt & Whitney
Dr. Alan Epstein is responsible for setting the direction for and coordinating technology across Pratt & Whitney as it applies to product performance and environmental impact. He also provides strategic leadership in the investment, development, and incorporation of technologies that reduce the environmental impact of Pratt & Whitney’s world-wide products and services.
Prior to joining Pratt & Whitney, Dr. Epstein was the R.C. Maclaurin Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He currently holds an appoint there as Professor Emeritus.
Dr. Epstein is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in aeronautics and astronautics.
John Hillenbrand, Vice President & Chief Innovation Officer, Owens Corning
Mr. Hillenbrand joined Owens Corning as Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer 6 years ago. In this role he has direct accountability for the Science & Technology organization and leads innovation across the global building materials and composite solutions businesses. In addition to these duties, he currently serves on the Corporate Partners Program at the University of Toledo’s College of Engineering, and the Chemical Engineering Advisory Board and the College of Engineering Committee of 100 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He recently chaired the Industry Advisory Subcommittee of the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Task Force, established by the Ohio Board of Regents.
Prior to Owens Corning, Mr. Hillenbrand spent 23 years in a variety of global business, technology, and operations roles at DuPont. Two of these roles were vice president of innovation and technology for DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers, and director of DuPont Ventures. The latter business sought out and partnered with entrepreneurial companies to create growth opportunities for them and DuPont; the experience involved developing and implementing a new model to broadly enable open innovation at DuPont.
Mr. Hillenbrand earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Tech, and master’s and doctorate degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, all in chemical engineering.
E. Jefferson Hynds, Director, Innovation - CEES. Ingersoll Rand Company Center for Energy Efficiency & Sustainability
E. Jefferson Hynds is Director of Innovation for the Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability at Ingersoll Rand. In this role, he works to embed design for sustainability principles into enterprise product-development processes and identify opportunities that use sustainability to create competitive advantage. In addition to developing breakthrough products such as the IBM Proprinter, Cadillac Northstar engine, Delphi Electric Power Steering, and Club Car Precedent golf car, Jeff holds six U.S. patents. He is a 2008 winner of the Maurice Holland Award, a member of RTM’s Board of Editors, and a member of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Advisory Council. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and an M.S. in management of technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Anne Marie Knott, PhD, Professor of Strategy, Washington University
Anne Marie Knott is Professor of Strategy at the Olin Business School, Washington University, where she has been on faculty since 2005. Prior to her appointment at Olin, she was Assistant Professor of Management at the Wharton School. Professor Knott holds a PhD in management from the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management, an MBA (also from UCLA) and a B.S. in Math from the University of Utah. Between her BS and PhD, Professor Knott worked at Hughes Aircraft Company developing missile guidance systems (from entry level technical staff to program manager). This background both motivates and informs her research. Her primary research area is innovation (both large scale R&D and entrepreneurship, which she views as complementary in contributing to economic growth). She has published numerous articles in Management Science, Organization Science, the Strategic Management Journal, the Journal of Small Business Economics, the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organizations, Research and Technology Management and Harvard Business Review. Professor Knott’s work on the organizational research quotient (RQ) has been awarded two grants from the National Science Foundation, including the first grant to quantify the performance effects of firms’ practices in the NSF’s annual Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS). Because her research has important practical implications for firms, it has been covered by Forbes, Atlantic, CNBC, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal.
Danielle Merfeld, PhD, Technology Director, Electrical Technologies & Systems, GE Global Research
Danielle is the Technology Director for the Electrical Technologies & Systems organization in GE Global Research, reporting to the Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of GE Global Research. In this role, she leads a global team of over 500 scientists and engineers, responsible for advanced technology development in the areas of semiconductor devices and packaging, electronics, power conversion. Danielle’s team is organized into six Technology Organizations, which are distributed across GE’s four Global Research facilities.
Prior to her current role, Danielle was General Manager of Solar Technologies at GE Energy. She initially joined GE Global Research in 1999 and led the Semiconductor Technology Laboratory, later serving as the Director of the Solar Technology Platform before transferring to her role at GE Energy.
Danielle received her BS degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Northwestern University. She has authored or co-authored over 70 papers in refereed technical journals and has given presentations at conferences and symposiums around the world. She is a member of several technical associations (IEE, MRS, ECS, and SWE), and sits on the University of Notre Dame’s Graduate Studies and Research Advisory Council.
Howard Morgan, PhD, Partner, First Round Capital
Dr. Howard Morgan is co-founder and Partner at First Round Capital, a seed stage venture capital investment firm specializing in information technologies. He began working with Idealab in 1996 and serves on their board. He has more than 30 years of experience with more than two hundred high-tech entrepreneurial ventures. He serves on the boards of 33Across, Axial Markets, Fab.com, Intelligize, Waywire and a number of other private companies. Howard was Professor of Decision Sciences at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Professor of Computer Science at the Moore School for almost 15 years. He a Trustee of Cold Spring Harbor Labs and Math For America and is a respected author. He received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1997. Howard received his PhD in operations research from Cornell University in 1968 and his BS from the City University of New York in 1965.
Ron Pierantozzi, PhD, Managing Partner, Cameron and Associates, LLC
Ron brings a combination of corporate and entrepreneurial experience to his consulting activities. He spent 28 years as a technologist (32 Us Patents), technology manager and Director of New Business development at Air Products, where he led the innovation efforts for the corporation. He has also served as the CEO of a solar materials startup (PPT Research) and continues to be involved in the materials and energy sectors as a board member for Primet Precision Materials and the board of advisors for STEM, a San Francisco based Energy Company.
In his consulting practice, he works with a diversified group of companies to guide them in the development of their innovation capabilities. He has also been a lecturer at the Wharton Business School where he teaches classes in the EMBA program and Executive Education programs for companies that include Siam Cement and BP. He is also a member of the faculty for the Corporate Entrepreneurial Leadership program and the Danish Technical University. He splits his time between Philadelphia, PA and Phoenix, AZ.
Ron holds a BS and PhD in Chemistry. He has also authored 22 papers, most recently in the Sloan Management Review and Harvard Business Review.
Robert Rosenberg, Co-Founder, New Venture Partners
After 15 years as a venture capitalist focused on corporate venture spinouts, Robert Rosenberg recently left New Venture Partners to pursue other interests at the nexus of entrepreneurship, corporate innovation, and venture investments. He served as CEO of ShopWell, a mobile app company that spun out of IDEO, refocused its operations, drove rapid growth in user metrics, and sold the company to a strategic buyer. He currently serves as an advisor to several early stage ventures.
Rob was a founding partner of New Venture Partners. New Venture Partners, the global venture capital firm dedicated to corporate technology spin-outs, has over $700 million under management and has co-founded and funded 70 companies built upon innovations from Bell Labs, British Telecom, Philips, and other major technology companies. Since 1998, Rob’s work involved identifying software and systems technology which could form the basis for a successful entrepreneurial venture, shaping the business model, developing the business plan, structuring the new entity, managing the transfer of technology and human resources, recruiting senior executives, launching the venture, raising outside capital, building value in the company, and ultimately exiting the investment.
Previously, Rob was a manager with The Boston Consulting Group, where he worked with leading global technology and communications companies to devise new product introductions and distribution strategies; a product manager with a networking software and equipment startup; and an analyst with Citicorp Venture Capital and Salomon Brothers Venture Capital where he worked on early stage investments including Iris Graphics (acquired by Scitex) and Proxima (acquired by InFocus).
Rob has served on the Boards of Directors of Internet Photonics, Inc. (acquired by Ciena), Liquavista B.V. (acquired by Samsung), Real Time Content (acquired by Randall-Reilly Publishing Company), SavaJe Technologies (acquired by Sun Microsystems), ShopWell Solutions, TimeSight Systems, Vidus Limited (acquired by @Road), and Vita Nuova Holding, Ltd. Rob was honored by the New Jersey Technology Council as a Finalist for Financier of the Year in 2010.
He holds a BA, magna cum laude, in Computer Science and Psychology from Yale College and an MBA from Harvard University, where he was a Baker Scholar. He has one patent pending.
Nilesh Shah, PhD, Senior Research & Development Director, Technology Center Site Leader, Advanced Materials, The Dow Chemical Company
Nilesh joined Rohm and Haas Company in 1985, starting as a Research Scientist in the Plastics business. Thereafter, he held positions of increasing responsibility in research management, leading Polymer Synthesis and Exploratory Research. From 1999 to 2002, Nilesh held commercial roles in the Architectural and Functional Coatings business, with responsibility for Strategic Planning and Marketing before returning to Research in 2003 to become a Global Technology Director. In this role he led Research and Regulatory Affairs for the Consumer and Industrial Specialties business followed by the Process Chemicals and Biocides business. He transitioned to his new role after The Dow Chemical Company acquired Rohm and Haas in April 2009.
Nilesh is the Technical Center Site Leader for Spring House and Collegeville, PA.
Nilesh graduated with his BS in Chemical Engineering in 1979 from Jadavpur University in Calcutta, India. He received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Nilesh is a member of the American Chemical Society.
Tony Singarayar, Founding Partner, Analogy Growth Partners, LLC
Tony Singarayar has 30 years global experience in Business Development, Finance, New Products, Marketing, and Information Technology. He is the Founding Partner of analogy growth partners LLC, a strategy consultancy that, in 1997, pioneered the idea of awakening profitable growth through business model innovation. He is a skilled public speaker. He is also Managing Director of an office technology business in Sri Lanka. Prior experience includes roles at Johnson & Johnson, Shell Chemical (Lankem Ceylon Ltd.), and KPMG.
Tony’s experience includes:
- pioneering a patent-pending business model innovation methodology, to accelerate revenue and profit growth of new and existing businesses
- developing business cases for a multinational’s global licensing and acquisitions strategy for new category development (7 years)
- initiating, leading, or participating in over 100 industry analyses, business/brand valuations, and negotiations to acquire assets and form strategic relationships
- working on these projects with teams from companies such as McKinsey & Co, Cap Gemini, Bain, BCG, multiple investment banks, and R&D/technology/product development specialists
- managing various entrepreneurial ventures including in the service and high tech sectors
- 20 years of experience in multiple roles with global responsibility for a Fortune 50 multinational company
- ongoing leadership of the management board of a 400 person, 40 year old business
- entering and growing new businesses in new categories
- managing product development partnerships
- guiding strategic and operating decisions
- accessing new sources of financing
Clifford Spiro, PhD, Cliff Spiro Consulting Group LLC
Cliff Spiro received a BS degree in chemistry from Stanford University and a PhD degree in chemistry from Caltech where he shared the 1980 McCoy Prize for the top thesis. Cliff joined General Electric in 1980 and held a series of progressively responsible research and management positions for GE between 1980 and 2001. In 2001 Spiro was named Vice President of R&D for Nalco, a leader in water, energy, and paper chemistry. Dr. Spiro joined Cabot Microelectronics in December, 2003, where he served for eight years as Vice President of R&D and CTO. Cliff has also served as a Director on the Boards of the Mississippi Polymer Technologies Corporation, Maxdem Corporation, Strategic Diagnostics (Nasdaq:SDIX), and Araca, Inc., and on academic advisory boards at U. Chicago, Northwestern, and U. Arizona.
In 2011, he formed Cliff Spiro Consulting Group LLC, located in Savannah, Georgia, for the purpose of coaching innovation leadership. He holds 21 U.S. Patents and has published 86 scientific articles and has given 95 technical conference presentations.
Cliff recently authored two books. “R&D is War- and I’ve Got the Scars to Prove It” delves into the human side of innovation. Cliff tells illustrative R&D war stories from his career about coal, turbines and diesels, the stealth bomber, synthetic diamonds, silicone rubber, light bulbs, water treatment, and semiconductor processing. He recently published “Up Yours- What to Do With an Engineering, Research, and Innovation Career,” a career guide for innovation professionals.
Thomas Thurston, Chief Investment Officer, Ironstone; CEO, Growth Science
Thomas Thurston is a data scientist who uses algorithms to predict if innovations will survive or fail. He's Chief Investment Officer at Ironstone, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm. He's also a hedge fund manager, runs data science think-tank Growth Science, and is a Partner at investment bank WR Hambrecht + Co, famous for innovative public offerings including Google’s IPO. Previously, Thomas used data science to guide growth investments at Intel. He also helped found a high performance computing business that was acquired in 2008. A former Fellow at the Harvard Business School - where he did joint research with renowned Professor Clayton Christensen - Thomas holds a BA, MBA, JD and is a member of the Harvard Business School Forum for Growth and Innovation.
Alex van Putten brings both entrepreneurial and corporate experience to his consulting practice and teaching at Wharton. He is a principal of Cameron & Associates LLC where he has advised companies such as Automatic Data Processing, Seagate Technology, Royal Dutch Shell, Air Products and Chemicals, DuPont, SCG, and Boeing on issues relating to innovation. Mr. van Putten is an adjunct faculty member at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he has been teaching graduate students since 1993. He is actively involved with executive education programs at Wharton, Duke CE, and Melbourne Business School where he lectures on issues surrounding innovation, corporate
entrepreneurship and strategic growth.
Prior to teaching at Wharton Mr. van Putten was in business for 20 years. He was a general partner in Norton & Co. a substantial arbitrage partnership and he has been an advisor, investor, and board member of several technology ventures. He gained senior level corporate experience
as a division manager at Chrysler Capital Corporation where he was responsible for a significant investment portfolio. Earlier he worked in the investment departments of Bankers Trust and Safeguard Insurance Companies.
Mr. van Putten studied at Boston University, Columbia University, the Wharton School, and is a DBA candidate at Edinburgh Business School. He is the co-author with Ian MacMillan and Rita Gunther McGrath of “Global Gamesmanship: Competing in Multiple Markets” Harvard Business Review May 2003; “How to Make Real Options Really Work” written with Ian C. MacMillan, Harvard Business Review December 2004; “Using Real Options Discipline for Highly Uncertain Technology Investments” co-authored with Ian MacMillan and Rita McGrath published in Research-Technology Management Journal of the Industrial Research Institute, January-February 2006; and a book entitled Unlocking Opportunities for Growth co-authored with Ian C. MacMillan for Wharton/Pearson Publishing.